Whoever came up with the idea of letting the common man onto a farm to pick fruits must have been a genius. Pratik and I had been fascinated by the idea of picking berries on a farm for a while, but had never actually got a chance to try it out. So when we made a trip to Canada this summer to visit my aunt, we were delighted when she asked whether we wanted to go strawberry picking. In that excitement, I remember letting out a brief shriek, confusing my aunt about whether I was really excited about the idea or whether it sounded so disgusting that I was in some sort of panic mode. It was hysterical. Anyway, things were sorted out and we jetted off to one of the farms close to her home.
It was an awesome experience. We could pick what we wanted, eat what we picked and to top that, take home a basket full. All for just 5 bucks. Eating all the strawberries picked fresh off the farm on a beautiful summer day! What more could one want? The tartness of these fruits, along with their sweetness is what makes these summer fruits extra special!
Back from the trip, my memory still fresh from the lovely strawberry picking experience, I went looking for strawberries at our farmers market. I wanted to try out a strawberry panna cotta. As luck would have it, they didn't have any! However, the bluberries there looked fabulous. I picked some up with the idea that I would now make a blueberry panna cotta instead.
Like most of you know, panna cotta translates to 'cooked cream'. Given our calorie filled vacation though, I wanted to create a lighter, healthier version. So I experimented with using buttermilk instead of the cream. We absolutely loved the result and will definitely make this again!
As a completely random side, are any of you watching the basketball games at the Olympics? Chris Kaman, playing for Germany, summarized Team USA's performance absolutely perfectly after Germany got routed by them yesterday: "Nobody is going to beat them. No way, it's just not going to happen". Gotta love those guys! More on that later.
Here we go with the recipe:
2 cups low fat buttermilk
1 cup milk (I used 2% fat but whole milk will be the best)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1 tbs vanilla essence
1 tbs unflavored gelatin
2 tbs cold water
1/4 cup of fresh blueberries
1 tbs sugar for the blueberry puree
Mint sprigs (optional)
Few extra blueberries for topping (optional)
Grease 8 small ramekins with some oil.
Process the blueberries and 1 tbs of sugar in a food processor until smooth. If desired, strain this puree through a fine sieve.
Soak the gelatin in cold water.
Combine the first four ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring it to a slow simmer stirring continuously. Add the soaked gelatin in this mixture while whisking steadily. Add the blueberry puree and mix well.
Pour into the greased ramekins. Allow to cool outside for 10 minutes. Keep in the refrigerator overnight.
To unmold, dip the ramekins in hot water for about 10 seconds and carefully flip on to a plate. Alternately, run a knife along the edges of the ramekins and then flip on to a plate. Top with mint sprigs and more blueberries if desired.
It is very important to stir the buttermilk continuously while simmering to prevent it from curdling. I have used buttermilk to keep the dessert healthy. You could use a combination of buttermilk, half & half; heavy cream (1 cup each).
Buttermilk is lower in fat and helps digestion. For more information click here.
Blueberries (or for that matter, berries in general) are packed with antioxidants, help in improving vision, protect against cancer, help protect the brain & promote gastrointestinal health. For more information click here.